Seriously. It Follows. What can one say about this high octane, sensational piece of cinema, which takes all expectations, all boundaries, all generic conventions and does away with them. It puts two fingers up in their direction and without being rude and causing a ruckus, it moves away from them and in turns mutates into something so unexpected, so intelligent and so compulsive. Directed by David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover), this is horror like you’ve never seen before. The monster, ‘it’, is both on screen and off screen – it lives in the minds of the characters and quickly invades the audiences’.
The film begins confidently and assuredly; a girl in her underwear runs from her house into the middle of the road. She is asked by neighbours whether she is okay. Her father runs out of the house and questions her but she assures them she is fine. She doesn’t look fine. The camera looks straight on at her and doesn’t move from the spot where it sits but rather twists around in a circle with her running around it. She looks directly on at the audience, she stares into our eyes and instantly brings us into the story (and we don’t even know what that is yet). Mitchell wastes no time making the audience become part of the action. Soon the girl returns inside, before running to the car and driving off. She leaves a message on her parent’s voicemail to tell them she loves them and the next morning, she is dead. WFT?!
Jay (Maika Monroe) hangs out with her family, she hangs out with her boyfriend. Mitchell allows the audience the time to observe this chilled out activity. The camera observes, the audiences observe – quickly we become voyeurs and soon implicit in what is to come. Her boyfriend sexually assaults her to ensure that they do have sex, he knocks her out and ties her up. When she comes to, she sees a ghastly naked woman coming towards her. The boyfriend explains that she needs to have sex with someone else and ‘it’ will leave her alone. That person then needs to have sex with someone else and so on. But if ‘it’ kills her (which it certainly wants to do), then ‘it’ will come back for the person before and so on. This monster can only be seen by those infected and it could come in the guise of anyone. In other words, this is the most fucked up and brilliant commercial for abstinence that has probably ever been made.
What follows is Jay explaining to her friends what has gone on; they decide to look out for her and make sure she doesn’t go crazy.
It Follows is one of the most stylish and haunting films to have ever been made; the power is in the fact that the danger is both on screen and off screen and you never know when it is coming or what it will look like. Mitchell’s filmmaking is provocative and unique, his film looks like nothing else and yet whilst he nods to other horrors that came before, he has created a whole new nightmarish world with a vision unlike anything else.
Monroe’s performance is delicate and engaging, the audience’s eyes never leave her. She commands with a power that you may not expect but that is part of the joy of the film. It Follows is a special piece of filmmaking, there has never been anything like it before and there is unlikely to be anything like it again. Addictive and irresistible.